By Bigum D
(CCVI High School Martial Arts Student)
(This essay was written by Centennial CVI graduating student, Bigum D, about the impact of her Martial Arts experience in grades 11 and 12. Students trained everyday in 75 minute classes; training included Goju Ryu Karate, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Judo, Olympic Freestyle Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and several other martial arts. Students also were introduced to martial arts physical preparation and traditional Japanese body conditioning. They also studied philosophy, culture, and other Japanese arts which included presentations on Tea Ceremony, brush painting, calligraphy, etc. Bigum received her Orange belt in Goju Ryu Karate as well as her Martial Arts High School credits. She continues to train with Sensei Tom Cako at Tri-City Training and will do so until she moves cities to attend Engineering program at McMaster University.)
"When I first entered the gym first period of first semester of grade 11, I had no idea the changes and surprises I was up for. Sensei Tom welcomed me with a warm smile and a 'hello'. It was this man that would soon become one of my favourite people. I sat down expecting to just have fun in that class and nothing more. Once I got in the groove of the class, I realized how much I did not know and this idea was thrilling for me as I quickly fell in love with the Martial Arts lifestyle. In the past two years, the Martial Arts has transformed my life in restoring balance to me emotionally and intellectually.
As I started sparring, I started realizing my lack of control and I did not know why this was, but I believe that the first step to self-improvement is realizing ones' 'flaws'. Slowly over the course of that first semester, I was inspired and pushed in the right directions to gain some self-control. This was applied to every corner of my life and not just in class. I was able to control my anger around my siblings, my anxiety in tests and all that meant less people, including myself, got hurt. Although I learned to keep in my negative emotions, I also learned how to release them the right way so I don't pent up emotions that could possibly destroy me from the inside out. In the dojo I had a few occurrences where I would suddenly start crying. After awhile, I realized that it was less about the physical aspects like exhaustion and hurt, but more so because of my pent up emotions. I would be hit hard and even though it did not hurt much, this triggered all the anger and sadness I had built inside me. After I realized this, I began to let out my mind once in a while and not hold back necessary words when I was upset. It brought a balance to me emotionally as I began to live my life between the hard and soft. Painting and sculpting gave a soft satisfaction to let out my shy and quiet side. But when Martial Arts became a part of my life, I had a medium to release the exact opposite side of me... the adventurous, passionate warrior girl who just wanted to have fun.
Secondly, Martial Arts has opened my eyes intellectually to the world outside and within myself. I am a bit of an old soul and philosophy interested me greatly. However, I did not have many learning opportunities to expand myself intellectually until I came across the Martial Arts philosophy. I started realizing that in certain areas I was insecure but the great cultivation side of Martial Arts made me realize that as I have all rights to love myself and that life is too precious to stay with the same old stubborn mindset. This growing self-confidence made me fearless in my personal life, I was more self-respected, more spunky, and unapologetic about my energy.
This confidence cleared my view of the world and allowed me to prioritize what things I put my energy and time into. Before Martial Arts, I concerned myself with the petty matters of other people's opinions, the embarrassing moments, and all the small things that will not matter a year from now, or even a month or week from now. After some time, I realized that I should concern myself with people who lift me up, things that are learning opportunities, and things that naturally fill me with energy. My friends, my family and even some of my teachers have noticed a more mellow side of me that I know I did not have before. And that to me, speaks great volumes of my growth both as a martial artist and individual.
Lastly, Martial Arts has developed me socially as it has opened my eyes to my flaws and on how to improve them to have better relationships. Before, I would speak my mind and concern it with insignificant matters. Through listening to my senseis and being more bodily aware, I started to be more aware of my actions and words. Because of this, I became more careful with what I say and what I do. I started having better relations with my siblings and friends, which made me even happier in life. Also, Martial Arts has allowed me to get close to people who really understand me and my life philosophy, to be around people who have the same goals in life as me. This kind of connection opened up opportunities for me to express myself around like-minded people and I feel very blessed to have gotten to meet and get close to these individuals in the last two years. Lots of great memories were created there and really gave my high school experience the boost I needed.
In conclusion, my experience with Martial Arts has opened up a new world for me; it has made me more emotionally balanced, allowed for intellectual growth, as well as made me a better, more confident, and happier individual."